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Last Updated: Oct 11, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Campus Size and Purchase Price

The GSU campus is 760.907 acres purchased between 1970 and 1971 for $1,389,086.

The smallest parcel was 1.5 acres purchased from Peter and Virginia Vick. The largest parcel was 118.3 acres purchased from Louis and Margaret Hantack.

Source: F.Y.I. October 30, 1989 pp. 3-4


Groundbreaking Ceremony

Groundbreaking for the permanent campus took place on June 12, 1971. A large tent was erected on site for the ceremony. Governor Ogilvie spoke during the program which preceded a box lunch on the grounds.


Photo courtesy of University Archives Photo Collection

Additional resources:

Photo of the tent and the audience who attended
Governor Ogilvie's speech
Groundbreaking Program Book 


Campus Construction

Campus Construction Photo 1973

See Governors State University take shape by viewing the collection of letters and photos documenting the campus construction's progress sent to President Engbretson by the architect in monthly intervals from March 1972- April 1974.

Image source: Digital Collections

Read a report on the construction in progress:
Faze 1 September 11, 1972 2 p. 1


Campus Site Description from the 1970s

Campus Photo 1973

With four lakes scattered across 753 acres of woods and prairie, the GSU campus resembles a pleasant resort area. It blends the old and the new, the long-standing houses of former residents and the modern megastructure main building and huge contemporary sculptures, to yield a campus offering the best of both worlds.

The campus site, located in suburban Park Forest South and Will County, includes wooded acres, and 350 acres of cultivated land producing soybeans and corn, 200 acres under rough landscaping, 100 acres of fine landscaping, four lakes, and three settling basins.

In the middle of all this natural open space is the main GSU facility. With 440,000 square feet of floor space, it too follows the concept of open space in its design. The building was based on the "academic street" concept and was once described as an "educational shopping center mall" with the broad student thoroughfare running down the center of the building, and the colleges and more specialized areas projecting from it. The nooks, crannies and courtyards were provided for individual needs and private groupings, with the common areas planned as larger gathering places. Certain areas of the building are expandable, since the exterior is made up of steel panels that can be unbolted, removed and relocated as the student population increases and the academic street extends.

Text source: Selection from Faze 1 March 2, 1979 p. 3 
Image source: Digital Collections

Additional Resource:
Floor plan maps can be found in Faze 1 December 17, 1973 pp. 4-6


Moving In

Fast Facts

  • Originally slated for September 1973, the move got underway in December 1973.  
  • Student classes were moved to the new building February 18, 1974. 
  • Rock Moving and Storage Company bid the move at $29,465.
  • Building cost was $17.1 million.

Exerpt from a 1974 message from President Engbretson to the GSU community:

Campus Move

It is never easy to move. The problems of moving an entire University are many, but by no means impossible. With your support, flexibility, understanding, and assistance, we will soon have completed a move to what will be a magnificent facility. In just a while longer, we can point with pride to our accomplishment of literally building a University from the ground up -- not just bricks and mortar, but the academic programs and community services which serve thousands of people. For these accomplishments and for your continuing efforts, I am extremely proud and grateful. Your good humor, tolerance and patience are becoming the hallmark of GSU. 

Source: Faze 1 January 21, 1974 p. 2 
His entire message includes an explanation for why the move took place before the construction was completed.

Two students describe the campus situation during the move in these articles from the student newspaper:

LRC Move
Mimi Kaplan of the Learning Resources Center
participates in the move.

Images courtesy of the University Archives Photo Collection


Dedication Service April 20, 1975

"Bright pennants fluttered briskly at the Stuenkel Road entrance to welcome over 1,000 people who came to celebrate GSU's Phase I Dedication....In his address, Governor Walker paid tribute to former governors and other Illinois leaders who have supported higher education in this state over the years and whose spadework made GSU possible...The receiving line which formed in the Hall of Governors after the ceremony included Governor Walker, President Engbretson, former Illinois governor William Stratton and Mrs. Betty Hood Poorman of Coral Gables, Florida and descendant of Shadrach Bond, governor of Illinois from 1818 to 1822."

Read the entire article and see photos from the event:
Innovator April 28, 1975 pp. 1, 6

Read about campus preparations for the big event: 
Faze 1 April 21, 1975 p. 1

Read Governor Walker's speech.

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